You may have noticed that I’ve started naming the blogs simply after the place we’ve most recently visited. I just got sick of staring at the computer screen for, like, 5 minutes trying to come up with an interesting title. Sorry.
So, Alvor! This small town was only 3 miles away from Lagos, but a world away in every other sense. It sits on the banks of a small tidal estuary, quite touristy still, but not in an offensive way. Rather, it had two or three main streets lined with bars and restaurants, and a large supermarket on its fringe (the proximity of large, well stocked supermarkets has become a major factor in deciding how much we enjoy a place). Sitting in one of the waterfront cafes enjoying a coffee and watching the activity on the water was extremely relaxing. There was all manner of watercraft: fishing boats, dinghies, sailing yachts and catamarans, RIB’s, tourist boats, jestskis, you name it. People were waterskiing, kitesurfing, diving (for shellfish, I believe), fishing, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, everything.
We anchored away from the town, along the dredged channel. Everywhere else dried out at low water, creating a series of sandy islands. It was possible to get into a dinghy, pack it up with an umbrella and chairs, and go sit on one of these tidal islands for several hours until it was slowly reclaimed. Indeed, many people did do that, although we chose to explore by paddleboard instead. It was extremely serene, slowly paddling around, watching everyone go about their day. The only thing that spoiled the serenity were the jestskis and RIBs, which paid little attention to any other craft on the water, and sped around as fast as their engines would go. Quite apart from the noise, it created considerable wash, which made the boat rock around. When paddleboarding it created a bit of drama, having to keep your balance while suddenly accosted by a series of waves.
The first night we were at anchor there was a different type of drama. We were about to settle ourselves in for The Shield, when Nick spotted the nearest boat slowly drifting towards us. The tide had turned, so all the yachts were slowly turning with it, but this boat was just floating aimlessly past us. It actually came close enough that we had to fend off to avoid it colliding, and since its owner wasn’t onboard we decided to raft it to us until he returned. We assumed his anchor had dragged, but we could also see the anchor line wrapped around the keel (presumably because of the anchor buoy he had attached to the line).
The owner’s dinghy was heard about half an hour later, just as the sun was setting. He was a Dutch man, who was very apologetic, but immediately said that this was the third time this week his anchor had dragged. “I don’t understand it, I put 50 metres out and I keep dragging.”
“50 metres?! We’re only in 2 metres of water…”
So, it’s possible his anchor hadn’t dragged at all, but that his swing circle was so large because of all the line he had out, and that had caused him to float past us. Of course, with that much line out, we were bound to collide at some point, so it’s lucky Nick had spotted the boat coming closer so we had been able to take action. If we’d also been away from the boat that night, we probably would have come back to a dent in the hull. That would have made Nick sad.
We told him to please stay rafted to us overnight and get himself sorted in the morning. This wasn’t pure altruism: the last thing we wanted was for the same thing to happen overnight, because chances were we wouldn’t be able to avoid a collision a second time. He readily agreed, and Nick held out his hand. “Since we’re going to be neighbours tonight, I’d better introduce myself. I’m Nick.”
So, Dick and Nick managed to get Dick’s anchor up, get his anchor line untangled (which had wrapped around his keel), and then he rafted alongside without any major issues. All the while Dick declared that he’d had enough of sailing, he wasn’t even sure why he kept doing it, but this was the final straw dammit, he was selling this blasted boat and going back to dry land.
Probably for the best.
The next day we went into town for a little explore and to get some supplies. John and Sandra were planning to arrive that afternoon, and we had invited them around for an Italian feast. I have to say, I think Nick outdid himself. Bruschetta and toast with mackerel and horseradish to start (bloody delicious), followed by the best seafood linguini I do believe I’ve ever had. There was utter silence as we all scoffed this incredible pasta, interrupted only by the occasional moan of appreciation. Strawberries soaked in white wine and sugar syrup, then drizzled with cream, finished us off nicely, and everything was washed down with Limoncello and Amaretto. John and Sandra looked at Nick with new eyes, and I could almost hear them thinking, “This bloke is a handy friend to have…”
The following day was a lazy one- obviously. We went for another wander in town, then followed it up with an afternoon of paddle boarding, lying around in those inflatable donut rings, which we attached with a line to the stern, and reading, reading, reading.
The next day we woke to a complete change in conditions. Where yesterday was blazing hot, this morning was grey and overcast with a distinct chill in the air. We upped anchor and left Alvor for Vilamoura, thinking the sun was sure to burn through the cloud soon. Well, several hours later and the visibility had only worsened. It was hard to believe we were on the Algarve: all we could see was grey.
Arriving into Vilamoura was a relief, but the only reason we were here was to source a spare spinnaker pole. We’d been in contact with a rigger, who finally turned up to do some measurements in the early evening. He will try and get the pole sent to us within the next two weeks. In the meantime, we’re outta here- the less I say about Vilamoura, the better. So, today we’re off to find another peaceful anchorage!